Rasmussen: Tasteless charity

A recent “Thankful for Blue” event popped up in Des Moines, saying “let us richly bless our Law Enforcement Officers and Staff at the Des Moines Police Department” because “Police Officers across the nation have not had a very good year.”Collage designed by Olivia Rasmussen through the use of Creative Commons photos.

Olivia Rasmussen

You know who else hasn’t had a very good year? George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake, Casey Goodman and other Black people who have been shot and/or killed by law enforcement. This year in general, the police have killed 1,016 people in America.

Looking closer to home, the Des Moines Police Department has spent all summer crafting pity-inducing narratives that have bent the truth to make themselves seem innocent while fanning the flames at peaceful rallies and protests. They’ve utilized fascist tactics to unlawfully detain, intimidate and harm folks, including press and legal observers, who were engaging in constitutionally protected behavior. DMPD and Iowa State Patrol has also tried banning citizens of this state from being on the property of their own city’s Capitol because they were exercising their First Amendment rights. The ACLU of Iowa has thankfully worked to ensure that ban doesn’t happen.  

12 incidents of recorded police brutality have happened in Des Moines since the end of May. This data is from protests alone, ranking Des Moines in the top 14 cities with the most police brutality since May 26, per a protest-centered police brutality tracker.

Additionally, asking people during a pandemic – while people are jobless and unable to pay their own rent/mortgage – to spoil cops who have had their jobs with secure benefits and salaries this entire time plus the city approving budget increases for the police department seems incentive and tone-deaf.

One commenter on the “Thankful for Blue” Facebook page asked, “We have residents who are starving and close to eviction and well-paid, city employees want charity?” Another person commented, “In the middle of a pandemic the bloated police departments don’t need our money nor charity; it belongs to the struggling businesses and American people. A department that can afford military equipment/weapons (used on citizens may I add) doesn’t need our charity.”

On top of this imprudent request for charity, Officer Brian Foster recently received a comfy promotion that was approved by the city. Des Moines Black Liberation Movement requested the firing of Foster back in June for allegedly abusing his power and using excessive force on protesters who were steadily obeying dispersal orders but decided to peek out of the apartment’s lobby door to see what was happening around them. Per the Iowa Informer, Foster along with Officer Thomas Garcia “pursued a group of protesters into the complex where one of them lived without a warrant and arrested several of them on charges of interference with official acts, ostensibly stemming from their violation of a Polk County curfew in effect at the time.”

Additionally, Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration is “using $10 million in federal pandemic relief funds to pay the salaries of state police officers, who have played only a small role in Iowa’s virus response,” making calls of charity for Iowa law enforcement seems like greedy whines of self-entitlement. 

Financial help should go towards the communities, businesses and people who are actually struggling this year, which our state has continuously dropped the ball in doing so. “Charity” based on people who willingly chose their careers and are now being held accountable for their actions but don’t like it seems futile. If you’re financial able to donate to actual charity this year, think about mutual aid groups or rent relief funds.

Des Moines Mutual Aid

DSM BLM Rent Relief

Edna Griffin Mutual Aid

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